Shelby’s Cancer Journey

It is with great privilege that I am able to introduce you to Shelby.  She is as cute as a button and incredibly strong! She fought cancer fiercely as she was diagnosed in her early 20’s and leans into the Lord resiliently for strength, courage, and love. She just turned 26 as well {Happy belated birthday, my friend!} and has quite the story to tell.

Shelby with her husband as they are in racing gear

Shelby exudes joy, kindness, love, and gratitude for the life she has been given and it is uplifting and motivating to live our lives like her each day. The “Life Today” section of this post could be the best thing you read all week!

Here is her story in her own words:

My Cancer Journey

In the spring of 2014 I had this annoying cough that just wouldn’t go away.  I had asthma from the age of four and just figured that we were having a bad Texas Panhandle spring.  Finally in June, I decided to go to the urgent care one early morning to see if I had some sort of infection.  I was told I had bronchitis and was treated with antibiotics and a shot.  Two weeks passed and I still had an annoying cough.  I finally gave in on July 2nd and went to my regular physician.  For some reason I didn’t want to go to the appointment byShelby smiling as she sits to have her last chemo adminstered myself, but I toughed it out and went.  My doctor wanted to do a chest x-ray to make sure there wasn’t an infection, so off I went to do it.

The results were ready as soon as I was back to the room where I had first seen the doctor.  I knew it wasn’t good when he walked in and I saw that look on his face.  He then explained to me that he was pretty confident that I had Lymphoma. I was sent for a CT scan that same afternoon.

The next morning, on July 3rd, 2014, I was officially diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, the same cancer that my mom had beat 16 years prior.

The next few months were fast and furious.  I had a biopsy and port placement done in August and then we went to MD Anderson Cancer Center to seek a second opinion.  I 12063527_10153028297562077_4750424345365135749_nstarted my first of twelve chemo treatments at the end of August 2014 and I finished my twelfth chemo treatment in January 2015.  I had a few weeks of a break and then I was in Houston from the end of February 2015 to mid – March 2015 for 17 radiation treatments.

I had done it, I was finally in remission.

In May 2015, I went back to Houston for my three month follow up scan, where we learned that I had relapsed.  Again, I started three very hard chemo treatments and then I started to harvest my own stem cells.  I was blessed to be able to use my own cells for my stem cell transplant, as it is much easier for your body to accept.  On October 28, 2015 I received my stem cell transplant and basically started my immune system over, just like a newborn baby. I have been cancer free since then.  I just recently had my two and half year remission scan and I continue to remain cancer-free!

Being a Young Adult with Cancer

Being a young adult with cancer was hard at first.  It’s easy to feel invincible and think that it could never happen to you: that only older people are supposed to face this type of thing. The more I thought about it though, the more I decided that facing something, such as cancer, as a young adult might actually be a blessing in disguise.  Being young means that our bodies are a little stronger and seem to respond and heal better to treatments.

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I learned that just because I had limitations, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t try to live as ‘normal’ of a life as possible. Each day is a new day and I was more than happy to have another day to live and enjoy the moment.

What Kept Me Going

What kept me going each day, was the fact that I knew that God was in control.  I know Shelby smiling and showing the bandaid over her left ribcage where her port was taken out.that His plan for me is much greater than my own.  I also had the best support system.  My family, friends, and all the people that were constantly praying for me and rooting me on got me through. I learned that it was just as hard for the people that love me to watch me go through my cancer journey, as it actually was to go through it.

My faith played the biggest role in cancer journey. There was never a day that I doubted God.  I knew I would be ok because the situation was all in His hands. Reading the Bible, doing devotionals, and praying with others helped me to keep my positive attitude helped me to remain in constant communication with God.  Here are some verses that got me through.

Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Exodus 14:13-14: Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

1 Peter 1:6:  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Hebrews 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Life Today

The biggest thing for me is how I face life everyday. Never lose sight of God and never Shelby and her husband on their wedding day outside by a treetake any day for granted.  The fight is hard but we are NEVER alone.  I don’t let little things bother me. I’m so thankful for the life that God has laid out for me even on the days that are terrible or if I don’t feel good. It doesn’t matter if I get a speeding ticket or if I am yelled at by a customer. I just love this beautiful, messy life that God has blessed me with.

Just turning 26 is so incredible! Birthdays are extra special now because I am blessed with another year of life!

I love to get a breath of fresh air, feel the sun on my face, watch the sky change colors. I love my life! If God asked me to do it all over again, I would. I know He will always take care of us and that he is using me and my story to touch others’ lives. I hope my testimony can help others who are facing hard times or just need a reminder to have faith. 

black and white photo of her wedding with multiple couples kissing

If you would like to reach out, I can be contacted at sshmata@outlook.com.

I can’t read that without a gigantic smile on my face. How inspiring and sparkly is this survivor? Shelby, you are an amazing young woman! We are praying for you and encouraged by you today. Thank you for sharing and opening up the lines of communication for others to reach out to you! We love you!

Are you or someone you know facing cancer as a young adult? Shelby and I would love to hear from you! Please let us know how we can be praying for you! {And you can always message Shelby and wish her a Happy Belated Birthday, too!}

God bless you!

Sparkle on,
Nicole Body

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